One book, many obligations. My biggest debt is to the undergraduate students who have taken my module, 'Postcolonial London', in the School of English at the University of Leeds since 1996. The influence of their discussions, disagreements and imaginative explorations of writers and issues will, I hope, be felt throughout the following pages, and many of my ideas are indebted to their enthusiastic and stimulating engagement with texts. Postcolonial London's merits are as much theirs as they are mine (suffice to say, its weaknesses are solely my responsibility).
Shirley Chew first encouraged me to pursue my interest in postcolonial London in the classroom and, later, on the page. Her wisdom and generosity remain inspirational. I have also benefited enormously from the input and insight of David Richards, whose support for my career continues to be a valued and vital source of strength. His friendship is precious and dear, and I have much to thank him for. Elleke Boehmer and Bart Moore-Gilbert offered intellectual, moral and practical support, as well as their time. I am especially grateful to Professor Boehmer, and to Catherine Batt, for helping me think creatively about my personal investment in postwar representations of London. I am also indebted to Caryl Phillips for inviting me to New York in October 2001 to give the Lucyle Hook Lectures at Barnard College, Columbia University, where I had the invaluable opportunity to share my work with, and learn much from, a new constituency of students. And I am most grateful to Bernardine Evaristo for memorably introducing me to Notting Hill, her willingness to provide some personal information which I use when reading her work in Chapter 5, and her supportive enthusiasm for my research over several years.
I owe a major debt of gratitude to Alison Creedon, James Procter and Andrew Warnes, who gave up their valuable time to read this book at manuscript stage, offered expert advice, and made many helpful suggestions. In particular, I benefited tremendously from the imagination and keen intelligence of Dr Procter whose guidance was characteristically